Thursday, February 23, 2012

Can a Video Prepare You for This?

Back in 2004, Kerry Jenkins submitted a thesis at Louisiana State University, 2004 that contains a great deal of interesting information.  His creative thinking is a strong addition to the body of thought regarding responder training.  You can find it at

He cites a great great many interesting quotes and information.  The reason it is worth studying is because he looks at our industry training issues without being bound by our pre-conceived notions.  His objective, explained in his own words is:

"Morey, et al. (2002) found that training of emergency personnel can reduce errors.  In this
study, emergency personnel such as doctors, nurses, and technicians were given formal
teamwork training.  Over one year, members of emergency departments participated in the study
by entering into a training course that focused on teamwork skills.  The results showed “that the
number of observed clinical errors was significantly reduced” within the departments given the
training (Morey et al., 2002, p. 9).  With the need for training so crucial, it is vital that the best
training methods and tools be used to help first responders retain and apply information.  In this 2
study, I experiment with the efficacy of one important tool used to train first responders:  the 
training video."

Much has changed in the emergency responder training world over the years.  Used to be that I thought emergency response training videos were a good training tool.  Now I know it was because I hadn't seen training videos of the quality produced by the Emergency Film Group.  They've changed the way I think about training videos.

Their founder, Gordon Massingham has kindly agreed to an interview.  I'm sending over my questions to him tomorrow morning on how his company started, what ideas they began with and how those changed over the years, and where they see the future for training videos.

Meantime, if you want to see one of the things about his company that impresses me, follow this link and take a look at the stellar personnel that as his Technical Committee.  Gordon sure knows the value of good technical input!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Upcoming Interviews

We want to keep your mental bulb burning about Hazmat Response Training, so we'll keep talking to the people doing the hard work of educating us.

Our next series of interviews on the topic of training will be with the Emergency Film Group, Custom Gas Solutions president Stephen Vaughn, PhD. and finally the folks over at Hazmat IQ.

Although they've been around for many years, the Emergency Film Group only recently just came to my attention.  I've never held much faith in videos as a Hazmat training methodology, but after seeing a sampling of these guys work, I have to say they've changed my mind.  I spoke with the founder and our conversation  really made clear why they're the leaders in the field.  I'll write about that in the next series of posts.

Stephen Vaughn, PhD. is the kind every Emergency Responder should should know.  When it comes to not only theoretical background ( getting his PhD from John Hopkins ought to be enough said on that topic), but hands on experience, he's as good as it gets.  When it comes to the practical aspects of handling toxic and flammable gas, there's none better.  You'll want to read what he has to say.

Then I'll get around to Hazmat IQ, the superstars of the Emergency Responder training field.  They're unique system and high energy "we've been there and done" that training will literally amaze you and change the way you think about the Hazmat Response field for the rest of your life.  Don't miss it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Stress and Training the HazSim Way- Part Five of Five

Phil Ambrose is on to something.

If we give him our support, someday the kind of high tech 3-D video interface modules in this picture might be integrated with his realistic approach to the hardware used in training.  This type of wearable technology could pave the way for augmented reality and allow us to realize the much sought after integration between technology and physiology necessary for more effective training.

Interactive modules of the kind Phil is designing to help prepare responders for hazardous gas confrontations are long overdue in our community and we should all be grateful for Phil's inventiveness and persistence in bringing his methods and equipment to market.  He's taken the lead on hazardous gas response training and I'm glad of it.

But his technology is applicable to more than just hazardous gas detection training.

When I asked Phil about whether his approach could be put to use to train people to use high-powered infrared temp guns as an early warning system, he told me,  "The short answer is yes. Using the housing and likely a beam to aim. The internals could be replaced with our internals and run on the platform. The long answer is yes too, just requires some work.  The initial plan of Hazsim would be to be adaptable to many technologies."  That's the kind of innovative thinking we need in the emergency response community.

I also asked Phil  what's  new and important at HazSim.  Here's what he said:

"HazSim is listed on the responder knowledge base and has AEL numbers for grant purchase.

Feedback has been excellent and common reactions have cited not only the realism but the fact that the instructor has so many options during a drill.  HazSim is proud to be providing our system to increasing numbers of public agencies in both police and fire hazmat.  We are in the process of finishing an agreement with one of the top HazMat training facilities in the world whose instructors were impressed by the HazSim system. 

HazSim is looking for a first responder HazMat agency or HazMat training group in the Chicago area interested in an evaluation studying the increase in learning through hands on interactive training.  The preferred group should have at least 90 students going through a HazMat course which involves drill scenario and meter use.  The training group would be part of a paper intended for publication and have the opportunity to use the HazSim Pro Trainer system.  For details about this study, contact or 323-9HazSim."

To lease or purchase these units, you can go to or or or call 323-9HazSim for lease or purchase information.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Stress and Training the HazSim Way- Part Four of Five

Controlled stress exposure while training is an important point in training, as we discussed in the last post.  It helps us understand that the situations and materials we are being trained to deal with can be dangerous to the life and health of our communities and ourselves.

Phil Ambrose's unique approach to handling the issue of hazardous gas detector training is shown in the following short video.  It's an introduction to his unique approach of providing hardware and software that can emulate virtually any portable gas detector on the market.  You'll see that the trainer can determine what readings the student sees on their simulated monitor and interact with the student during the training.  This interaction on an individual monitor puts the student on the spot to deal with the issue in front of them.  They learn the point that so many other approaches miss- that you have to use the readings on the monitors to chart your next course of action.

And you'll see why Phil says "HazSim, LLC and their product line of Hazardous Materials Simulation Software and Handheld meters challenges the 'old way' of hazmat training. High risk occupations require simulated hands on training."

We see videos about how to use our hazardous gas detectors.  Teachers explain what the readings might or might not mean.  But in most training, the teacher lacks a way to link that knowledge permanently to the idea that we must use those readings as a basis for our next actions.

You'll get the idea why during the last 30 seconds of Phil's video.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Lessons from the Grandmaster- Part Three of Five

The Grandmaster Makes a Painful Point

My teacher, Grandmaster Robert Law, has unique views as they relate to training.  All of his methods have applications to teaching emergency responders.

One of his fundamental concepts is the counter-intuitive idea that we learn best when we are under moderate stress.  The opposite approach is where a student experiences no stress during their training.

Here is a famous example of an Ontario policeman and martial artist who learned by standard training methods:

The policeman pulled over a reckless driver on the 401 highway that stretches from Windsor to Toronto and beyond.  As he got close to the car, the driver got out and pointed a gun at him.  The policeman, a highly trained martial artist, reacted with blinding speed, took the gun away from the driver and then, without a thought, returned it to him.

What happened next?

When he realized his mistake, he tried to take the gun away again and this time the driver shot him.


Because in standard training, the student practices the pistol takeaway and then returns it to the other student so that they can practice the move again.  And they do it again and again and again.

So the policeman was just repeating his training when he gave the gun back to the driver.

There was no stress in his training.  No sense that the person with the gun was really an enemy and that he could really get hurt if he didn't totally disable the opponent.

It's very much the same with hazardous gas detector training.  We see a movie.  We learn how to operate the device.  No stress during the training.  No sense that the situation is real.  No sense that there are consequences.

The results can be catastrophic.

In our next post, we'll get a look at how Phil Ambrose's new training system deals with this problem.  You'll see a video of how the system operates.

You'll find it highly instructive.